2021 WYOMING CYBERSECURITY COMPETITION WORKS WITH YOUR BUSINESS PLANNING
LARAMIE – Celebrating its fourth year starting on Feb 1, the free Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses works with a company’s planning efforts by capitalizing on the company’s strengths to meet goals.
Small businesses and start-ups that participate in other programs throughout the State will find the competition complementary to their business planning, strategic planning, and marketing efforts.
“I can’t tell you how many times we have recommended the Wyoming Women’s Business Center (WWBC) or the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for complementary services,” said Laura Baker, Executive Director of CyberWyoming and Cybersecurity Business Counselor for the competition.
Baker went on to say that the SBDC’s ethical hacking and website review and the WWBC’s webinars on software like Quickbooks and website design have become a standard recommendation for participants in the competition.
“I know for a fact that competition participants have enrolled in other, longer term programs because of the competition,” said Baker.
This year the cybersecurity competition is adding Working Webinars where past and present participants learn about a specific topic and then break into small groups to work on their policies together. The idea was inspired by some of the other economic development agencies throughout the state, a sister CyberUSA organization in Kentucky, and by the gBeta pitch contest sessions, of which CyberWyoming participated in a mentor swarm.
All small businesses, nonprofits, and home based businesses are welcome to enter and there is no fee. “Our small businesses today are Wyoming’s economic future,” said Baker.
While there is no entry fee, participants in the competition should be prepared for possible financial outlays to upgrade software, purchase hardware, and purchase cyber related services from attorneys, insurance agents, or IT professionals.
“In last year’s competition, one retailer only spent about $60 to upgrade the business’s antivirus software,” said Baker, “Cybersecurity can be inexpensive when you look at it from a leadership standpoint. Business owners lead their team every day so helping them learn to lead their same team in cybersecurity gives them the power to manage their risks.”
The competition winners speak at the Wyoming Cybersecurity Conference, tentatively scheduled for Oct 6-8. In addition, winners and participants will be featured in statewide press releases and on CyberWyoming’s website. To enter the competition, email firstname.lastname@example.org or download the application on www.cyberwyoming.org’s website. Final entries are due to the judges on Aug 31 and CyberWyoming helps participants write up the reports. The judges are recruited via economic development agencies throughout the state and are unknown to CyberWyoming’s staff that helps businesses reach their goals
Winners in 2020 were Craftco of Sheridan, Wyoming Roofing LLC of Sheridan and Gillette, and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Winners in 2019 were First Northern Bank of Buffalo, Laramie Reproductive Health and Laramie’s Historic Railroad Depot. Winners in 2018 were First Federal Bank & Trust of Sheridan, Language I/O of Cheyenne, and Wind Hosting of Lander.
CyberWyoming is a nonprofit organization that founded the Made Safe in Wyoming Program. The program helps business owners develop and implement best practices to become cyber secure through partnerships with Wyoming technology companies, law firms, insurance companies, education, and more.
“We don’t actually sell hardware or software and we don’t sell insurance or legal services related to cybersecurity,” Baker said. “Since we are a nonprofit organization, we consider ourselves a non-biased third party here to give you tailored advice on the cyber risks you can avoid. Some things you can do in-house and others you may need to consult an expert, but it is a fallacy that it is going to cost more than purchasing home-use equipment at a box store.”
To participate in the competition, business owners or managers should contact email@example.com to get a copy of the intent to participate form and make an appointment to discuss how to become cybersecure. CyberWyoming is responsible for monitoring efforts to meet best practices and helping the business owners document their progress. The final step is submitting the documentation to the judges, chosen by local economic development agencies.
The 2020 competition was free to small businesses due to Wyoming sponsors and 2021 sponsorship is soon to be determined. 2020 sponsor companies included Team Networks (Casper), Campbell County Health (Gillette), IECA (Casper), Ptolemy Data Systems (Sheridan) Sweetwater Technology Services (Rock Springs), EvnTec (Evanston), DigeTekS (Casper & Buffalo), First Federal Bank & Trust (Sheridan), Cheyenne State Bank (Cheyenne), Wyoming Financial Insurance (Rock Springs), and Lunavi (formerly Green House Data, Cheyenne).
“We couldn’t run the program without the support of these community minded companies,” said Baker.
Information about Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses can be found at www.cyberwyoming.org/competition.